Accuracy of Lung Ultrasonography versus Chest Radiography for the Diagnosis of Adult Community-Acquired Pneumonia: Review of the Literature and Meta-Analysis

PLoS One. 2015 Jun 24;10(6):e0130066. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0130066. eCollection 2015.


Lung ultrasonography (LUS) is being increasingly utilized in emergency and critical settings. We performed a systematic review of the current literature to compare the accuracy of LUS and chest radiography (CR) for the diagnosis of adult community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). We searched in Pub Med, EMBASE dealing with both LUS and CR for diagnosis of adult CAP, and conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of LUS in comparison with CR. The diagnostic standard that the index test compared was the hospital discharge diagnosis or the result of chest computed tomography scan as a "gold standard". We calculated pooled sensitivity and specificity using the Mantel-Haenszel method and pooled diagnostic odds ratio using the DerSimonian-Laird method. Five articles met our inclusion criteria and were included in the final analysis. Using hospital discharge diagnosis as reference, LUS had a pooled sensitivity of 0.95 (0.93-0.97) and a specificity of 0.90 (0.86 to 0.94), CR had a pooled sensitivity of 0.77 (0.73 to 0.80) and a specificity of 0.91 (0.87 to 0.94). LUS and CR compared with computed tomography scan in 138 patients in total, the Z statistic of the two summary receiver operating characteristic was 3.093 (P = 0.002), the areas under the curve for LUS and CR were 0.901 and 0.590, respectively. Our study indicates that LUS can help to diagnosis adult CAP by clinicians and the accuracy was better compared with CR using chest computed tomography scan as the gold standard.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Area Under Curve
  • Community-Acquired Infections / diagnosis
  • Community-Acquired Infections / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pneumonia / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia / diagnostic imaging*
  • ROC Curve
  • Radiography, Thoracic / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography

Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.